Apartment Rising: The “New Workers Collective”
AuthorFjærtoft, Thomas Buikema
This research thesis is based on fieldwork conducted at a construction site in Oslo, Norway. By describing the complexity of nationalities, languages, trades, worker groups and companies in the field, I show the reality that faces the informants and how labor migration has transformed the workforce in the construction industry. At the construction site people would speak at least fourteen different languages and belong to nineteen different companies, with different people, languages and trades moving in and out. How do people relate to each other and create a common ground? I focus on how these social relations have changed by comparing them to Lysgaard’s influential concept the workers’ collective, in his work published for the first time in 1961. By contrasting my experiences with those of Lysgaard, I see how these transformations resemble the changes described by Bauman (2000), from a solid to a liquid modernity. One of the main points is that the construction site is a liminal place where workers are in-between buildings, countries and languages. The categories and relations are not stable and predictable, but rather fluid and in flux. In this environment people use humor and active engagement to create a diverse community together. This contemporary community is not the same as the workers collective described by Lysgaard. It does not spur collective action and deadlines, and the tender system make the community vulnerable. The new workers’ collective is a resurrection in a different form - more fluid, fragmented, fragile and forceless. A part of this thesis is also the film “Apartment Rising” that shows, more than explains, contemporary reality facing workers and how they create common ground.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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